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French phrase of the day: Locataire de Matignon

The Local France
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French phrase of the day: Locataire de Matignon
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

In France renting is common, even for the big cheeses.

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Why do I need to know Le locataire de Matignon?

Because it refers to a very specific person.

What does it mean? 

Locataire in French means tenant, the standard term used on any French property rental contract.

Le locataire de Matignon, pronounced ‘luh loh-cah-tear duh matt-ing-gnon,’ means the current tenant (or resident) of the Hôtel de Matignon. This is the handsome 18th century building that houses the French Prime Minister's office.

Matignon. Photo by THOMAS COEX / POOL / AFP

 

So really this phrase is simply a synonym for 'the Prime Minister'. 

It may be interesting to note that the word locataire  is most closely translated to tenant, highlighting the temporary nature of the job of Prime Minister. 

You might see this phrase used when describing domestic policy or day-to-day governing, two areas which fall under the purview of the French Prime Minister.

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Use it like this

'Le pass vaccinal entrera en vigueur lundi,' a expliqué le locataire de Matignon - 'The vaccine pass will come into effect on Monday,' explained the Prime Minister. 

Le Président vient de nommer le nouveau locataire de Matignon - The President just appointed the new Prime Minister.

Alternatives

It's not just the French PM who is sometimes referred to by the name of a building, this is common throughout French politics.

Le locataire de l’Élysée - inhabitant/ tenant of Élysée Palace aka the President

Le locataire de Bercy - the finance minister

Le locataire de Beauvau - the interior minister 

The building names are also often used as a shorthand for the various ministries, so you may see phrases like Matignon a announcé . . ; which means that the Prime Minister's office has announced something, similar to how we talk about 'a statement from No 10' when referencing the British PM or 'White House sources' when talking about the US president.

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